by Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
The Archbishop of Canterbury warned yesterday that the Church of England could be torn apart by legal battles over property if he fails to prevent Anglicanism splitting over gays.
Dr Rowan Williams said that his "nightmare" was that the worldwide Church could disintegrate into rival groups within a decade, with each demanding a share of the Church's wealth in costly court actions. He painted a bleak picture in which there were four competing Anglican churches on one street.
"That would take so much energy from what we're meant to be doing," he said in an interview with Nederlands Dagblad, an evangelical newspaper in Holland.
The Archbishop will host a summit next month with the liberal leadership of the American branch of Anglicanism and conservative American bishops.
Dr Williams hopes to stop the conservative Americans from breaking away over the liberal policies of the American Episcopal Church and precipitating schism. The dispute goes back to the consecration of Anglicanism's first openly gay bishop in 2003.